The Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) has reduced tariffs for digital signal distribution in a move geared towards facilitating a smooth migration from analogue to digital television broadcasting in the country.
According to Determination No. 1 of 2013 on Cost-Based Terrestrial Digital Broadcast Signal Distribution Tariff issued yesterday, Digital Signal Distributors shall charge broadcasters - in this case referred to as Content Service Providers - Kshs 125,990 per Megabit (Mbit) for Nairobi and Kshs 93,202.75 per Mbit for other sites in Kenya. The new tariffs took effect from Monday December 2013. Before the review, the Pan-Africa Network Group (PANG) had proposed to charge broadcasters a monthly signal distribution fee of Kshs 1,135,312.50 per channel in Nairobi while the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC)-owned SIGNET on the other hand had proposed to charge KES 248,141 per mega bit (Mbit) for signal distribution services within Nairobi. The downward review of the charges also comes a few days after the High Court put a temporary stop to the switch-off of the analogue TV signal in Nairobi initially scheduled for Friday December 13 till Monday December 23 when the court will make a substantive ruling on the matter. For other sites in Kenya, SIGNET had proposed to charge a uniform signal distribution fee of Kshs 248,141.45 per Mbit, while PANG had proposed to charge a flat monthly fee of Kshs 378,437.50 for signal distribution services in Mombasa, Kisumu, Nyeri, Eldoret, Kakamega, Kisii and Meru. For Malindi, Webuye, Garissa, Narok, Kericho, Isiolo, Kitale, Bungoma, Embu, Voi and other regions, PANG had proposed to charge broadcasters a flat monthly fee of Kshs 126,145.83. According to the statement issued by Mutua Muthusi, CCK's consumer and public affairs director on behalf of the director general, CCK further requires the two Digital Signal Distributors - that is PANG and Signet - to publish a Reference Offer three months from the date of the announcement in order to ensure that there is access, transparency and non-discrimination on the terrestrial signal distribution platform.
According to the determination, digital signal distributors are also expected to prepare separate accounts for each commercial subsidiary including the appropriate allocation of central overheads within six months.
In arriving at the afore-cited tariffs, CCK adopted a consultative approach where the signal distributors were involved.
The downward review of signal distribution fees could be welcome news to the Media Owners Association (MOA) which had previously complained the fees were too high and thereby having a negative impact on the country's digital migration process.